Senior Road Tester Michael Neeves spent a day riding the new Ducati SuperSport S and SuperSport on both road and track in southern Spain, and below he answers questions sent in by readers about the new model.
What’s the wind protection like from such a small screen?
It is relatively small, but it’s adjustable and on the fast A-roads and motorways we tested the bike it was fine. There was no buffeting and no sore neck.
Who’s the competition? Honda VFR800? Kawasaki Z1000SX?
That’s a really interesting question. Both of those are competitors and perhaps the Suzuki GSX-S1000F as well. But really it hasn’t got any competition. This is a premium brand product between £11,000 and £13,000. It's much sportier than those bikes which are all sport tourers really. Although it doesn’t have the same amount of power it’s very easy to ride. In spirit it's closest to the old Honda CBR600FS from the early noughties.
With the 600cc supersport class dying could this potentially become the new supersport class?
That’s bang on. This is in spirit the same kind of bike as a supersport bike. It's got the same kind of power and weight, although obviously it's a twin instead of an inline four.
Is it just a Monster with a fairing?
The cynic in you could say that - it’s based on a Monster chassis but it’s a different engine, fairing and electronics.
Is it a fitting replacement for the original Supersport or ST series?
I think it is. The old Supersport was a milder version of the 851 and a Panigale has a lot more power and is a lot sharper than the new SuperSport. This isn’t a sports bike, it’s a sporty bike, like a roadster with a fairing, and I think it is a good replacement for those. It handles like a Ducati should, the handling is superb.
What does it deliver that other similar bikes do not to truly make it an everyday sport bike?
The fact you’ve got a good mixture of performance and decent comfort. It is definitely angled more towards a sports bike and there's still a lot of weight on your wrists - not as much as a sports bike, but you do feel it - but it's relatively comfortable.
Can the ABS be switched off?
Yep, all the electronics can be switched off if you want to pull skids and wheelies.
What is the difference between the SuperSport and Panigale models?
The Panigale is a race replica track bike, essentially. It's a very extreme, 200bhp homologation special. This is a lot milder and a lot more user friendly.
What niche is it trying to fill?
Well there’s nothing now that’s a comfy sports bike so I guess this is.
How is the suspension? Is it set up for comfort or sport?
The standard model has Showa forks and a Sachs rear shock, while the S comes with fully adjustable Ohlins. The set up on both models is very neutral and user friendly. It just floats along and it has nice damping for the road. On the track there was a noticeable step up in ride quality with the Ohlins suspension.
What do you think of the styling?
It’s not really a sexy bike is it? But when you’re with it all day you see the good sides of it. It’s not an ugly bike, but it’s certainly not in the same league as a Panigale?
Would you recommend it for track use?
As the launch proved it was really good on track. The brakes are superb, the handling and ground clearance are good and it gives you a lot of confidence. It’s a nice track day machine and I think if you're new to track days it would be a good choice. Somebody coming from a proper sports bike might find it a little lacking.
How’s the riding position?
Before we rode this bike I had no idea what to expect. It is relatively sporty, but there’s decent leg room while giving good ground clearance and the seat is pretty comfy. There's a little bit of a stretch to the bars so you end up riding with your arms quite straight which puts a lot of weight on the wrists.
It makes 113bp. Is that enough?
It’s enough for the road. When it's in sport mode it's really punchy, although it doesn’t have punch of the Hypermotard. It's been retuned for a wider spread of power, but when you’re zinging it through the gears you never feel like you need more. Maybe on a big track you would need a little more.
Should I trade my Z1000SX for one?
It depends what you use it for really. The Z1000SX is a fantastic bike and it's roomier and faster than the Ducati. With Ducati you’ve got more refinement, better handling, better brakes, better electronics, and great electronics. If you want something sportier go for the Ducati.
How does it compare to the 848 Streetfighter day to day?
There's something about super nakeds which make them so much fun - they’re cheeky, wheelie machines and the 848 Streetfighter is one of my al-time favourites. This is more serious and obviously has better wind protection. The Streetfighter is actually roomier with bigger bars and more leg room.
Does it have that classic Ducati hooligan character?
Yes, just whizzing up and down the mountains the sound is fantastic, it pops and bangs. The electronics spoil the fun a tiny bit but I still had a lot of fun, even though it was wet.
Can the electronics be turned off on the move?
As an owner you’d quickly figure out how to turn them off, but at a touch it's hard to switch everything off. On this you need to stop, go through the modes and select five or six options. You may as well leave them on, so you’ve got that safety in the background if you hit a slippy bit of road. Urban and Touring modes knock a lot of power off.
How does it compare to 899/959?
They’re in a different league, those supersport Ducatis are proper little race bikes with 140/150bhp, rigid frames, sharper suspension, sharper brakes - they're just more aggressive. This is much more laid back.
Could it keep up with a 1000cc superbike in the twisties?
Absolutely. The stability is fantastic and the suspension offers great control.
Are there any excessive vibes or heat from the engine?
There are no vibes at all, it's really smooth. It was too cold to notice any heat from the engine. I know a lot of readers mention how hot a Panigale gets, but its not something we really experience in the UK.
How would it compare to the Honda VFR800?
It's similar in spirit, but the VFR is much more focused on touring. This is a lot sharper but the power is probably about the same.
How does it compare to the Monster 796?
The Monster would certainly be easier around town, but the SuperSport would be better for longer distances. Performance-wise there's probably not much in it.
How do you think it would perform on longer trips?
It will certainly be comfier than proper sport bikes, but it's lacking heated grips and cruise control which perhaps indicates it's sport bias.
Do you think you could live with it?
I could easily live with it, but I’d probably want a little bit more power.